Some officials of National Identity Management Company (NIMC) have been accused of demanding bribes from telephone subscribers in the ongoing SIM-NIN integration in Abia State.
These allegations were made by some disappointed telecommunication subscribers in the Umuahia North city office of NIMC, who went to register their lines with the National Identify Management.
According to the agitated subscribers, the officials of NIMC allegedly demanded between N2000 and N4, 000 from some persons to have them captured quickly.
One of the enrollees, Comrade Moses Ekeleme, had stormed the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Umuahia, complaining of the sordid deals going on at the NIMC center, promoting journalists present at the NUJ office to embark on confirmatory and investigative mission.
On arriving at the NIMC office, a large crowd numbering over 1,000 of subscribers was met on ground at Umuahia North local government area office, with most of them complaining of not being attended to, after many days.
But to confirm the veracity of the claims by Ekeleme, our correspondent spoke to some of the subscribers to know their impression about the whole exercise and it was at this juncture that the Pandora’s box was opened about the alleged sordid activities of the NIMC officials, whom, according to the angry crowd, had converted the SIM card registration business to a cash cow.
Some of the enrollees, decried the low pace in the registration exercise, regretting that many of them had spent many days coming to the LGA headquarters but to no avail, as they were always referred to return the next day
They also complained that the ratio of NIMC staff was not proportionate to attend to the needs of the ever increasing crowd.
Other people who spoke to journalists including Mrs. Clara Chibuisi, Miss Augusta Uwakwe, Mr. Sydney Chinwoke and an elderly woman, Mrs. Igodiya Awa alleged that the NIMC officials demanded money from them I’d they wanted their matter to be attended fast.
I came here to do my registration and when it reached my turn, they told me to bring N2000 or I should check another day , that is why I started challenging them, because I know this thing is supposed to be free of charge as directed by the federal government.” comrade Ekeleme Moses told journalists.
The complainants further alleged that some people who afforded the money were allowed in through the back door, even if such people’s names were last in the NIMC list.
They however disclosed that some subscribers were the people who dangled monetary offers on NIMC officials to enable them leave the center early enough.
A peep into a ledger kept for the crowd outside the center showed that more than 800 names of people were inside the ledger , while some others queued up to write their own names in the list.
This is even as some private security guards were seen helping in controlling the surging crowd urging “those from number 160 and above should come back the next day”
But efforts our correspondent to hear the NIMC officials’ side of the story nearly turned violent as a male staff of the federal parastatal pushed away a reporter with the Sun Newspaper, Mr. Chuks Onuoha and attempted to seize his camera, even as the NIMC staff raged, “What is your business here, why are you snapping our pictures and those of the crowd? What are you asking them? ” Did you see anyone collecting money from anybody?”, he said, querying why journalists came around to monitor the SIM-NIN link exercise.
He continued, If I grab that camera, I will smash it and beat you up and nothing will happen”, he fumed, thereby missing the chance to state his office’s side of the story.
When the office of the executive Chairman of Umuahia North local government area, Mr. Ugochukwu Njinkonye, visited for comments, he could not be met in the office.